By Kevin Madigan
Jewish rappers don’t come along every day, but one of them, Rami Matan Even-Esh, who goes by the stage name Kosha Dillz,came through Atlanta and performed at Aaron’s Amphitheatre on July 2 as part of the Vans Warped Tour.
Dillz, 33, who is from Perth Amboy, N.J., rhymes in English, Hebrew and Spanish.
He has been active in the music business for a decade and was cited by The Source magazine as “the hardest-working man in hip-hop.” He collaborated with Wu Tang Clan’s RZA on a hit song called “Operator,” which also featured Kool G. Rap from the
Juice Crew. He pops up in odd places, such as a 2012 Bud Light Super Bowl commercial and the BET Awards, and he even became a playable video game character.
His latest album is “Awkward in a Good Way.”
Dillz talked to the Atlanta Jewish Times while he traveled through the South on a noisy tour bus, but his responses were indecipherable over the phone. He then agreed to answer some questions via email, using his own grammatical style.
AJT: What are your impressions of the Atlanta show and the audience?
KD: The show was great and well received. It was also extremely hot and exhausting, hence the reason we shout out Hotlanta!
AJT: Is the Warped Tour turning out as you hoped? And with so many acts on the bill, what do you do to stand out and engage the crowd?
KD: Being the Jewish rapper is certainly a way to grab attention — my name and pickle emblem and Team Kosha logo helps us stick out.
AJT: You said you would like to have more Jewish fans. Can you expand on that?
KD: I think the engagement of Jewish support seems to be that they are thinking it’s cool but don’t understand that the majority of my fans seem to not be Jewish. I experience a lot of people who don’t enjoy being Jewish, but their friends think it’s cool, and those friends are confused as to why their friend isn’t mesmerized and appreciative of the name and prowess of being on Warped Tour.
It saddens me, honestly. Why are the Jews so quiet? Why aren’t the Jews in the front row? Why aren’t BBYOs and USYs booking us more? Why aren’t they showing up and knowing about it when all their kids are attending this concert? Why are the older bosses not responding when we are reaching out to their organizations offering free tickets and they still don’t take them?
I was the first person to make a Hebrew Warped Tour T-shirt in 21 years of the USA’s largest rock tour. I’m the first openly Jewish rapper on the tour. I have an Israeli flag at my table and receive anti-Semitic slurs for being myself, and no one seems to rally behind the reality of how awesome it is for Jewish music to be on Warped Tour. So, yeah — what’s up, Jewish people?
AJT: Tell us about your background in New Jersey and Israel — your childhood, Rutgers, wrestling, personal life, becoming a rapper, etc.
KD: Basically it goes like this: soccer, wrestling, drugs, college, wrestling, jails, addictions, college, jails again, college, jail again, recovery, rehab, rapping and rapping and rapping, and eventually Warped Tour, with a lot of Israel in between all those.
AJT: What are your musical influences, and what do you listen to now?
KD: Biggie Smalls, Nas, Panthers, Metallica, Rancid, Green Day for influences. As far as today goes, many of my friends — Alvarez Kings, the Kenneths, Baby Baby (from Atlanta), Matisyahu and tons of live music I see on tour.
AJT: Explain what the Kosha School is and how people can sign up for it.
KD: People can sign up for Kosha School by emailing email@example.com and hitting up their school to book a program that will come and teach you how to become a Jewish rapper in 45 minutes. This is a ball of fun.